Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in intensive care with leukemia

Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi is being treated for a lung infection that is a result of chronic leukemia, his doctors said onThursday. This is the latest in string of health setbacks for the 86-year-old media mogul.

Berlusconi’s personal physician, Alberto Zangrillo, signed off on a medical bulletin that said he has had leukemia “for some time” but that the cancer of the blood cells was in a “persistent chronic phase.”

Berlusconi is a media mogul who served three terms as Italy’s premier and now serves in the Senate. He is still the leader of the Forza Italia party, a junior partner in Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s coalition.

He was admitted to an intensive care unit at San Raffaele Hospital on Wednesday for treatment of what aides indicated was a respiratory problem stemming from a previous infection.

Earlier Thursday, a close political ally, Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, quoting Zangrillo, reported that Berlusconi was alert and in stable condition at the hospital. Tajani is the coordinator of Forza Italia, the political party that Berlusconi created some 30 years ago.

The last years have seen Berlusconi suffer numerous health problems, including heart ailments and Covid-19 in 2020, which saw him hospitalised then in critical condition with pneumonia.

He has had a pacemaker for years, underwent heart surgery to replace an aortic valve in 2016 and overcame prostate cancer decades ago.

With no political heir apparent despite Berlusconi’s multiple health setbacks, Forza Italia has seen its popularity at the polls slump to a fraction of what it enjoyed years ago, when voters helped to repeatedly propel him into the premiership despite his legal woes.

The Senate seat Berlusconi won in September is the fruit of his latest political comeback. A decade ago, he was banned from holding public office over a tax fraud conviction stemming from dealings in his media empire.

AdvertisementThe new Emirates Premium Economy has arrived on the latest Emirates A380 Emirates Get the best value from your summer holiday with exclusive offers and discounts across Dubai and the UAE with Emirates Pass